Occupational Health Nurse

Occupational Health Nurse Role

Occupational health nurses (OHN) engage in case management, counseling and crisis intervention, health promotion and risk reduction, legal and regulatory compliance, and worker and workplace hazard detection, according to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN). Registered nurses and nurse practitioners within an OHN role earn certifications from the American Board for Occupational Health Nursing (ABOHN).

OHNs may embody a number of roles:

  • Clinician
  • Manager
  • Case Manager
  • Coordinator
  • Corporate Director
  • Consultant
  • Educator
  • Health Promotion Specialist
  • Nurse Practitioner

Occupational health nurses are competent in the following areas, as defined by the ABOHN’s Occupational Health Nursing Professional publication:

  • Clinical Practice
  • Work Force, Workplace, and the Environment
  • Health and Safety Education and Training
  • Case Management
  • Management, Business and Leadership
  • Research
  • Regulator/Legislative
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Professionalism

Occupational Health Nurse Scope of Practice

According to the ABOHN’s Occupational Health Nursing Professional publication, registered nurses in occupational health may work to observe and assess a worker’s health status with respect to their job role. From this, occupational health nurses can recognize and prevent health effects from hazardous exposure. OHN nurse practitioners treat physical and mental conditions as well as provide diagnoses and recommendations for chronic diseases within their scope.

OHNs may engage in evaluation of interactions between employees and their workplace, provide treatment for work-related injuries, maintain Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-required logs, manage worker’s compensation cases, and conduct health surveillance of employees for specific hazards.

How to Become a Certified Occupational Health Nurse

Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming a Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) or Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist (COHN-S).

  1. Become a registered nurse. All occupational health nurses are at least a registered nurse. Be sure to check with your state of practice to review requirements for RN licensure. These typically include the passing score of the NCLEX-RN exam.
  2. Earn experience in occupational health nursing. In order to apply for a certification in occupational health nursing from the ABOHN, RNs must have earned clinical hours of experience.
  3. Pursue a certificate in occupational health nursing. The ABOHN offers two pathways for certification. Learn more below.

Occupational Health Nurse Certification

American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN)

Certified Occupational Health Nurse (COHN) / Certified Occupational Health Nurse-Specialist (COHN-S)

COHN Eligibility: Current and active RN license with 3,000 hours in occupational health nursing earned within the last five years. OR time in a graduate program related to occupational health or a completed bachelor degree in a program related to occupational health.

Exam Fee: $400

COHN-S Eligibility: Current and active RN license with 3,000 hours in occupational health nursing earned within the last five years and a bachelor degree or higher [does not have to be in nursing]. OR time in a graduate program related to occupational health or a completed bachelor degree in a program related to occupational health.

Exam Fee: $400

Information about the ABOHN certifications was last retrieved on March 2020. For the most up-to-date information, visit the ABOHN’s website.

State Nursing Certification Information

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